Body in a vat

I recently watched a bit of a documentary describing hypothetical technological possibilities for immortality. It introduced a project someone was working on to completely model a brain in an electronic system, which could be seen as a way of reproducing a person’s self or somesuch in the machine.

When I thought about some of the problems with this idea, it occurred to me that some of them would also appear in the thought experiment of a brain in a vat: someone thinks they are living in the world and interacting with it, but they are really just a brain in a vat being simulated so as to experience an elaborate virtual reality. The idea of immortality by copying your brain is a bit like this scenario, because the only part of the person that is preserved is the brain — not the rest of the body. Well, for the brain in a vat to experience things like a human being, its body would have to be simulated as well, because the brain doesn’t just receive input and give input directly from and to the world without the rest of the body. So really, if you wanted to build such a system, you’d probably want to keep the person’s whole body, kind of like in The Matrix. (Except that in The Matrix, it was obviously thought enough to interface with the brain only, as the people who were unplugged but connected to the Matrix voluntarily only used the one plug at the back of their heads. Still, at least the body was there.)

I suppose this was supposed to be longer, but I don’t see that it needs anything added, as long as I don’t mind it being a fragment.


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